I’m Not so Smart and Other News

I woke up this morning and realized that a.) I hadn’t posted in a while and b.) that Ryan and I had been dating more than a  year*.

Old News: In case you missed the story of how I tried in vain to dump Ryan, you can read it here. If you want just the summary it goes like this:

1.) We go on a date.  And then another.

2.) I tell him I don’t feel the spark.

3.) He requests a do over.

4.)I look like an idiot because I’ve moved into his house and we’ve now been dating somewhere in the neighborhood of a year.

 

Sort of New News :

I am a know-it-all. Well, that’s not really new, but it’s at least not me just recapping a previous post. See, not only do I know everything, but I know everything about the future**.  I didn’t actually think I was psychic.*** I did think that if I planned carefully and weighed the options with the utmost care, I could effectively predict the path I should follow. This meant that I went into my dates with an idea about what it was I wanted and a very clear idea of exactly wouldn’t work.  I would never admit to this while I was still practicing rapid-fire dating™ In fact, I had even convinced myself that I was no longer applying these standards. I lied. Because that’s the first thing you do when you go on a date, you lie–both to yourself and the person you are with. In both cases, you are saying you are giving them a fair chance, when you aren’t. Oh, I know you think you are, but in the back of your mind you have a secret list…a list of requirements, which is much less cool or useful than the room of requirement.

All too often these requirements are…well…dumb. Even more often they are self-destructive.  To demonstrate, I give you my list.

  • must not be blonde
  • must have a college degree
  • must not think that a college degree is a waste of time
  • must be liberal
  • does not own firearms
  • needs to be taken care of in some weird way
  • must like the Muppets
  • must like The Princess Bride
  • must think that books are pretty much the awesomest form of entertainment in existence, or at least must put books in the top 5 ways to spend an evening
  • must not argue that awesomest is not a word
  • must not be boring
  • must be taller than me
  • must not be too tall
  • must not be afraid of food
  • must not dominate the conversation
  • must not just stare at me while I talk
  • must like eating out
  • must not be opposed to eating in
  • must not be into outdoor things or if is into outdoor things must not require that I participate if it involves running, heat, or pain
  • must like movies, particularly “good” movies
  • must not have tiny hands
  • must not have a tiny mouth
  • must not be afflicted with halitosis
  • must not be a player
  • must not sound like a player
  • must be nerdy
  • must not be too nerdy that he can’t socialize

If you ask Rosewater Jump, this list was probably much longer when I was in the throes**** of dating. But these rules were meant to protect me from dating my father, dating my douchey high school boyfriend, dating my friend’s no-good-lying-sack-of-shit boyfriend, and dating…well…let’s face it, just about anyone. So, I would go on date after date upset that these men didn’t meet my standards. I would not see this one again because he didn’t have a degree. This one was just too boring, and that one…he sounded like a player. There were 9,000 excuses on why I couldn’t date someone. But the truth? The truth is that sometimes you can’t actually put your finger on it.  Or you just aren’t ready to date. Or you just don’t feel special. Of the 4 of you who read this blog, two of you may be up in arms about this. Screaming, “I knew what I wanted!!” Did you? I mean, could you  have made a list? Or did you just know when it happened? Like, seeing this dress when you claimed you were looking for something fancy to wear to your hairdresser’s wedding this weekend and knowing in that moment that you must have this delightful polka-dotted frock

because it was the perfect compliment to the items in your wardrobe and you could even wear it to work. And you would share a beautiful life together. It was worth your investment. This was not the dress that you were looking for. But somehow it would work. Likewise, it is rarely the relationship that you are looking for. Instead, it is the relationship that sneaks up on you and ignores items on your precious list of requirements. Let’s review my list in light of my current relationship, shall we?

  • must not be blonde  Is strawberry technically blonde? Does is count that he was a red-head as a kid? Yeah. I didn’t think so.
  • must have a college degree  He’s still smarter than me.
  • must not think that a college degree is a waste of time
  • must be liberal He told me a couple of weeks ago he was considering voting for Newt Gingrich. My soul died a little.
  • does not own firearms he owns 6. Yep. 6.
  • needs to be taken care of in some weird way he’s happy to let me cook or be domestic, but he is a self-sufficient, nonwhiner. He apologized that his vomiting awoke me.
  • must like the Muppets
  • must like The Princess Bride
  • must think that books are pretty much the awesomest form of entertainment in existence, or at least must put books in the top 5 ways to spend an evening
  • must not argue that awesomest is not a word
  • must not be boring dumb requirement. Turns out, I’m really boring and together we are the apex of boring.
  • must be taller than me
  • must not be too tall
  • must not be afraid of food
  • must not dominate the conversation
  • must not just stare at me while I talk he does that, but mostly in a “the fact that you are so worked up about this is really funny to me” kind of way
  • must like eating out
  • must not be opposed to eating in
  • must not be into outdoor things or if is into outdoor things must not require that I participate if it involves running, heat, or pain
  • must like movies, particularly “good” movies We see a lot of movies. But we disagree on some qualities. I don’t think that revenge makes a movie an instant watch. He doesn’t think that Meryl Streep is a all that watchable. We both agree that mock horror films are hilarious.
  • must not have tiny hands
  • must not have a tiny mouth
  • must not be afflicted with halitosis
  • must not be a player
  • must not sound like a player
  • must be nerdy
  • must not be too nerdy that he can’t socialize

Conclusive News:

I still met the majority of the items on my list, sure. But in past dating experiences, I would have discounted him immediately for violating the first several rules…not to mention owning guns. Turns out, I’m not so smart about these things.

 

—-

*I said this to a friend, and she spent 15 minutes arguing with me. Her point? I refused to call him my boyfriend for several months after we were dating. Well, just until he took me to meet his parents. At that point, I figured it couldn’t be undone. It really can’t be undone now. I vomited in his parents’ car. On his mom. On her birthday. No I was not drunk. If anything, I feel this has brought us all closer: they now have a really embarrassing story to tell about me at holiday parties. That’s how you know they consider you part of the family: they are excited to embarrass you.

**If and when I  ever have kids, I’m sure they will LOVE this about me.

***Well most of the time. Since I was fairly young, I have had vivid dreams that would play out every-day scenarios: scenes from school, conversations at work, unusual events while I was driving, etc. Most of the time I don’t remember these dreams until something in my regular life happens that mirrors one of these episodes.  This gives me the creepy-crawly sense of deja-vu.  Do I think I’m psychic?  Not really.  I think my anxiety-ridden brain has hundreds of these dreams every night–like a computer running possible reaction scenarios. I only remember their existence as they play out and then feel uneasy and as if I have done this before.  Yes, I know.  I should probably up my dosage. It really is a marvel that I function in the normal world.

**** I chose this word carefully. I think online dating is sort of like convulsions. And anyone who has had first date sex will vouch for this. Personally,  I wouldn’t know. Because in addition to being a know-it-all, I’m kind of a prude. Well, cautious; I call myself cautious. Ryan and I had been “dating” (as in going out on dates) since mid December and we didn’t even kiss until mid February. See, when I was in high school, my boyfriend told me and everyone I knew that I was a bad kisser. And despite the fact that I know that guy is a driveless douche, I couldn’t help but worry that if I kissed a boy he would run screaming in the opposite direction. This is why all future initial  kissing has happened when I was inebriated or dehydrated. In both cases, you aren’t thinking straight and you have the artificial confidence of a person lacking a few brain cells. Yeah, I know I’m a dork.

™ Ok.  So, I have NOT filed for a trademark on that. But I should. It will all be part of my dating success book, co-written with Rosewater Jump and titled You Have No Soulmate and Other Dating Truths. The fact that “rapid-fire dating” sounds as if you are subjecting yourself to an early twentieth century Texan firing squad is no mistake.  Because dating is a lot like early firing squads: shitty on the aim and yet seemingly boundless on the ammo. In both scenarios, you leave the field damaged, limping, and yet running for your life because anywhere has got to be better than there.

 UPDATE: I just found this article which discusses how online dating makes us pickier. While some might argue that is from the scope of selection, I worry (as seen in the above list) that we set ourselves up for failure. Also, we set ourselves up for listmaking, which is really a fruitless and frustrating task.

 

A Positive Note on Dating (To Ryan)

I am fairly sure that a total of 4 people read this blog.  And 3 of them have administrative rights to its content.

So, funny story. I’ve been dating someone for 6 months.  6 months today, as a matter of fact.  Well, 6 months today according to some standards. See, there’s a story that goes with that. You may remember I went on a truly horrific date in December. It included stories of strippers, pipe-fitting, and scandalous photos. It was awful.

And yet, I proceeded forward.  I had a date but a week later.  A date with Ryan. I would give Ryan a pseudonym, but he has already posted on this blog, and I like the name Ryan. Otherwise I might end up calling him Scott or John or Ray or something else totally unfitting. So, Ryan and I go out.  And we close down a bookstore, and close down a restaurant talking and laughing and being idiots.

Then we go on a second date and similarly laugh and talk and close down another restaurant.

So I text him the next morning and tell him I don’t want to see him any more. That makes sense, right? Actually what I said was “I’m not sure I am feeling the elusive chemistry.”  Always count on an English major to let you down using obscure words.* It was December, 21st, my Mom’s birthday.  And, in short, I was tired.  Tired of dating, tired of the holidays, tired of trying to get up my hopes about men when I was clearly going to die alone with my cat.  Why get invested? It was easier to be alone.  I would continue forth—stoic, undatable.

He asked for a do-over.

I looked at my phone perplexed.  A do-over?

I was utterly confused.  I confessed to my friends that I wasn’t worth the chase.  They argued with me.  I did not believe them.  I noted that I wasn’t that cute.  My mother scoffed at me.  I declared that she was required by law to pretend that I was lovely at all times. I screamed that I was boring and he was just going to dump me anyway when he found out that I was a tightly-wound control troll with thunder thighs and kinky hair made of the souls of children.**

At this point, I was declaring reasons Ryan could not possibly want a do-over to my mother, my roommate, my mother’s lovely friend, a dozen restaurant patrons, and a bottle of wine. Really, anyone who would listen was polled.  And not one of them would listen to my logic. Not one of them saw the brilliance to my desire to dodge rejection.

So, we went out again and again.  And now we’ve been dating for six months and I am stupid happy and giddy about life and talking about rainbows and unicorns and sunshine and helped him buy a new couch because I both fell off and bled*** on the other one…not at the same time.  I hate those gushy people who post how much they love their significant others on Facebook.  It feels artificial and really like it as advertisement to everyone else about their blissful happiness when in fact she is sobbing in the corner nursing a bottle of gin. So I wrote a blog instead.

To Ryan:

I am an idiot.  An idiot for trying to dump you after the second date. And an idiot who loves you for proving it and even inspiring me to admit it semipublically. To six more months and many more.  *smooches*

 

*I once told an employer that another employee was often a bit abrasive.  His response? “That’s the nicest way anyone has ever called Kristen a bitch.”

**I went to see the movie Tangled in the movie theater.  My extremely curly hair was blown straight for this viewing, which is a good thing because the little girl behind me started weeping that such hair was scary when the curly-mopped villain threatened Rapunzel. It was going to “eat her.”

***There’s a really good story there. Oh, you thought I was going to share?  Yeah, not so much.

Disasters in Dating…the Sequel

I’ve been on several dates since my last dating post. None of them was particularly special. There was the guy who looked like a turtle but who was really nice. There was also the guy who cringed every time I swore. I don’t have the cleanest mouth, but I do generally possess tact.

Generally.

At a certain point, I just gave up. When the date started to go poorly, I began dropping the f-bomb to see him cringe. I wonder why he didn’t call…

But last night’s date was with a new man. A persistent man. A man about whom I was reticent because he had kids. It’s not that I don’t like kids. In fact, I love children. I paid for a trip to Europe on babysitting money. I have been vomited and shat upon in the name of new bookshelves. I have squealed when I saw baby socks. However, I’m not sure I’m ready to be someone’s parent. That requires a certain “togetherness” and financial security I’m not sure I have. Sometimes I eat chips for dinner. Or spaghetti sauce. Out of the jar.

And then there’s my liberal guilt. I can barely feed myself, how will I feed a kid? What about the planet’s resources? Is it fair to bring another child into the world? What of impending nuclear war? THE APOCALYPSE!! You see, I have stress and worries. You don’t really want me passing that on to a kid, do you?

But I digress.

I was worried. Moreover, he had horrible pictures on his dating profile. I’ve met with this problem before. Men choose pictures of themselves wearing horrible hats or making faces that even a mother can’t love. They find it amusing. I have one lovely friend who even posted pictures of himself on his dating profile with Sharpie-illustrated tattoos. For shame, sir. Don’t worry, he doesn’t even know this blog exists.

Date guy, we’ll call him Steve, was no exception. Steve had horrible pictures. But he was a moderately successful children’s book author (I cyberstalked him. I feel in the modern age you would be remiss to go on a date with someone without at least googling them). His blog was funny. His rants on Superman and the importance of good grammar in schools seemed promising. And his e-mail messages, though not terribly lengthy, were entertaining and seemed well-intentioned.

So, we arranged to meet. I was nervous that he had kids, but I’ve been trying this new thing where I attempt not to judge before I meet up with someone because I could be cutting off my options and no one really wants to die alone and probably naked because your cats were very sad when you didn’t get up to feed them and then in their depressed hunger consumed the clothes from your body purring in cold comfort. You see? This is why I’m single.

I arrived at the agreed upon location five minutes early. I looked around. No sign of Steve. Some 22-year-old who paid for his tab with travelers checks and suspiciously guarded his weathered blackberry checked me out. I text Steve. Steve notes that he is 20 minutes away because he took the light-rail and showering was time-consuming. He actually tells me that showering was time-consuming.

Rule 1: Do not be late to a date in general, but especially don’t be late to a first date. If you must be late, do not be more than 10 minutes late and prepare to grovel.

Steve shows up, and he looks like hell. He’s wearing a shirt that is decidedly middle-aged, ugly sneakers, and ripped jeans. He is 36. He does, however, appear to be clean, so I decide to be open-minded.

And then Steve speaks.

The first thing he tells me is how he is broke.

Rule 2: Don’t tell your date about your money woes. But especially don’t tell your date about your money woes in the first 10 minutes of the date.

He has started looking for holiday work, and as such he spent most of the day at a training session for the pipe fitters union. No shit. I nearly choked on my Shirley Temple. He’s telling me that they were putting him on the fast track for management because he has an MBA, but that he could earn $140K as a pipe fitter. Does he know anything about pipe fitting? Not really, but that’s ok because that’s what training is for.

Not to worry, though, because if this doesn’t work out, his mom will be able to find him more part-time work…as a stage hand for the shows that she helps run for a local theater.

Rule 3: Don’t tell your date that when all else fails, your mom bails you out–even if it is true. Just leave that out.

We are now 25 minutes into the date. I know this because I have checked my phone’s clock approximately 6,000 times. I have also received a text message from a gamer friend who knows I’m on a date (see, I have gamer friends. More reasons I’m single) and who is making Indiana Jones references (Bad dates…ha). I’m keeping a straight face. Barely. I’m not responding to the text message because I think it’s bad manners to text while on a date. Though I nearly break this rule when he answers a text message from his ex-wife.

Rule 4: Don’t answer text messages on dates. More importantly, don’t tell your date that it is your ex-wife texting you about a picture she found on your dating profile of you two having sex.

That’s right. He had a picture of her legs over his shoulders on one of his dating profiles. She found it and was shocked. He responded to her, while snickering. I check the time on my phone again. It has now been 45 minutes. I check my e-mail. He’s still texting. I consider for a minute of whom his mannerisms remind me. I can’t quite place it. I move on. I suddenly realize that he reminds me of an unfortunately unattractive friend with a tiny mouth. I of course can’t shake the image of tiny-mouth talking. His lips sticking together as he attempts to enunciate. Steve does not have a tiny mouth, but that is now of no importance.

He stops texting. The conversation progresses to more normal things. We talk about his kids. We talk about the publishing industry, we talk about our friends. He has not asked me a single question.

Rule 5: At least pretend to be interested. Ask your date questions. Make her feel like part of the conversation.

I’m asking all the questions. I’m driving the conversation. So I stop talking. I wait. And I wait another minute. Then it happens. He tells me a story about his friend, the 35-year-old virgin. I am pretty sure that I am now part of a Judd Apatow movie. So his 35-year-old friend is now dating a stripper….a virgin stripper. They met at the strip club. He was a regular customer. She is saving sex until marriage. He is smitten. Then one night she decides they should have sex, and invite another stripper to join them. So, he went from virgin to threesome.

And Steve is jealous. He tells me he is jealous. He waggles his eyebrows.

Rule 6: I’m sure there’s a rule in that story somewhere, but honestly, I was so dumbfounded at this date that I was just plotting escape routes.

I tell him I need to leave. I tell him it’s a long drive home. It is another 45 minutes before we manage to get the bill paid. He makes a joke that the stripper story might not have been the best material for a first date. He intimates at a second date. I consider spontaneously vomiting to get out of the restaurant.

I drive Steve to the light-rail stop. I tell him to have a good night. He asks if I want to see him again. I say “I haven’t decided yet.” I chickened out, but what was I supposed to say? He was in my car. I needed him to leave. I needed to drive home. I needed wine.

And so it ended. I have not heard from Steve. Though it’s only been 12 hours. I feel bad that he is lonely. But I don’t need a man. At least not that badly.

Disasters in Dating

Ok, disaster might be too strong a word. But at this point in the game, I don’t know what else to call it. I truly hate that I just called it a game. I used to get excited about dates. I would feel like vomiting all day, worry about my hair, and hope that I didn’t sweat off my make up. Then I would nervously giggle and twirl my hair before the disappointment set in. Now, I feel the date was a success if the conversation only halts, hiccups, and then sputters back into awkward action. Last night’s date was not a success. Here’s a sneak-peak into my evening in a coffee shop:

Me: I tease my brother that he got all of the personality and I got all of the tact
Him: I think I’m more balanced
Me: Yeah…I’m generally pretty balanced, unless it involves great injustice or cupcakes
Him:….
Me: Yeah…so…how do you get along with your brothers?
Him: Oh, they both have kids. I used to live with one and his girlfriend and I didn’t know they were dating
Me: you didn’t know?
Him: I guess when she got pregnant I should have…
Me: *Laugh*
Him: ….pause….*laugh*

Me: *Awkward silence*
Him: yeah…um…
Me: *head on table*
This was met with, you guessed it, more silence. At a certain point, I just give up and start throwing out random facts and babbling about cookies.

Rosewater suggested that I set up my own speed dating: 3 dates in 90 minutes, each in a different location, standardized questions typed on note cards.

1.) Who is better, Batman or Superman?
2.) Milk chocolate or dark?
3.) Why did you join an online dating site?
4.) Do you want kids?
5.) What’s on your DVR?

Or maybe I should just take a judging committee. “I’m sorry, sir. But that repartee made my soul weep. Your height and charming smile are only worth a pittance. 4/10”

The good news is I wore red shoes. Who doesn’t like red shoes?